Astronauts

Overview


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JAXA's Astronauts

It has been more than twenty years since Astronaut Mamoru Mohri became the first Japanese to fly into space by Space Shuttle. Since that Space Shuttle flight, in September, 1992, Astronauts Chiaki Mukai, Kouichi Wakata, Takao Doi, Soichi Noguchi, Akihiko Hoshide and Naoko Yamazaki have also successfully completed their missions. In June 2011, Astronaut Satoshi Furukawa started his long-term stay mission at the International Space Station, then, in July 2011, three new astronauts, Kimiya Yui, Takuya Ohnishi, and Norishige Kanai, were certified as ISS onboard astronauts.



Astronauts’ Tasks

JAXA astronauts have been accumulating technologies, experiences and knowledge for Japan’s manned space flights while contributing to the International Space Station project through the assembly work of the ISS and the Japanese Experiment Module Kibo. The astronauts engage in the following major tasks while staying at the ISS by utilizing their previous experiences.

  • Experiments and research
    Space experiments utilizing the environment that is different from Earth such as microgravity and high vacuum.
  • Operation and maintenance of ISS and Kibo
    Maintaining the ISS systems including those for electricity, communications, environment control, and experiment support. Repairing and maintaining the ISS.
  • Robotic arm operation
    Manipulating the robotic arms of the ISS and Kibo to set or replace an experiment device and material and to repair the ISS.
  • Extravehicular activities (with space suit on)
    To carry out some repair and maintenance work on the ISS as well as experiments that cannot be conducted by a robotic arm.

How to Become an Astronaut

Needless to say, astronauts need to have expert knowledge of science and technology. In addition, they are required to be fluent in English, in order to communicate with astronauts from different countries who live and work with them. Astronauts have been selected based on the screening of application documents; a series of written exams on the English language, general and specialized knowledge of natural science, interviews, and medical and psychological examinations.


Training of Astronaut

After being selected, astronaut candidates undergo Basic Training. They obtain basic knowledge and technical skills in space engineering, space science, space medicine, the Space Shuttle and ISS systems, the English and Russian languages. They also receive flight training and physical training. Upon completion of Basic Training, they are officially certified as astronauts and receive more advanced training in the operation of spacecraft systems and experimental equipment, as well as training to work in space. They also continue with language instruction, flight training, and physical training.
After assignment to a specific Space Shuttle mission or ISS increment, astronauts receive training in the specific tasks to be conducted during launch, in orbit, and on return, and participate in simulation training along with other astronauts and flight controllers.
So far, those training sessions have been conducted mainly by NASA; but for participation in the ISS, Japanese astronauts, training sessions will be conducted mainly at JAXA.



Summary of Japan-related missions and flight results

 MissionMission period
(JST)
Soyuz Astronaut Yui to fly Expedition 44/45  
Soyuz Astronaut Wakana to fly Expedition 38/39  
TMA-05M
(31S)
Astronaut Hoshide to fly Expedition 32/33 7/15 - 11/19/2012 
TMA-02M
(27S)
Astronaut Furukawa to fly Expedition 28/29 6/8 - 11/22/2011 
STS-131 Astronaut Yamazaki, ISS Assembly Flight 19A to fly STS-131 4/5 - 4/20/2010
TMA-17
(21S)
Astronaut Noguchi, Expedition 22/23, by Soyuz (21S/TMA-17) 12/21/2009 - 6/2/2010
STS-127
(2J/A)
Astronaut Wakata, ISS Assembly Flight 2J/A, by Space Shuttle Endeavour 7/16 - 7/31/2009
STS-119 Astronaut Wakata, ISS Assembly Flight 15A, by Space Shuttle Discovery (Expedition 18/19/20) 3/16 - 3/26/2009
STS-124
(1J)
Astronaut Hoshide, ISS Assembly Flight 1J, by Space Shuttle Discovery 6/1 - 6/15/2008
STS-123
(1J/A)
Astronaut Doi, ISS Assembly Flight 1J/A, by Space Shuttle Endeavour 3/11 - 3/27/2008
STS-114 Astronaut Noguchi, ISS Assembly Flight LF1, by Space Shuttle Discovery 7/26 - 8/9/2005
STS-92 Astronaut Wakata, ISS Assembly Flight 3A, by Space Shuttle Discovery 10/12 - 10/25/2000
STS-99 Astronaut Mohri, Second Shuttle Flight, by Space Shuttle Endeavour 2/12 - 2/23/2000
STS-95 Astronaut Mukai, Second Shuttle Flight, by Space Shuttle Discovery 10/30 - 11/8/1998
STS-87 Astronaut Doi, Japan's First EVA, by Space Shuttle Columbia 11/20 - 12/5/1997
STS-72 Astronaut Wakata, First Mission Specialist of Japan, by Space Shuttle Endeavour 1/11 - 1/20/1996
STS-65 Astronaut Mukai, Second International Microgravity Laboratory (IML-2), by Space Shuttle Columbia 7/9 - 7/23/1994
STS-47 Astronaut Mohri, Fuwatto '92 (First Material Processing Test/FMPT), by Space Shuttle Endeavour 9/12 - 9/20/1992
* February, 2011 Updated